After changing formats to a live show during its last season, the UFC is back with its newest season of The Ultimate Fighter tonight, and it will be broadcasted the way it had been for the show’s first fourteen seasons: a taped format.
With the show unfolding in front of our eyes each week last season, who would still be standing in the later rounds of competition was obviously unknown. Because of this, the production staff was unable to apply this knowledge and focus more on devoting additional screen time to those fighters in each week’s episode. This isn’t a knock against the production of the show, because they were simply playing the hand that they were dealt in the show’s first attempt at a new format, but it is worth noting.
There are clear advantages to both versions of the show, but at the end of the day it made sense to go back to the tried and true way of doing things. This season started taping earlier this summer, and wrapped filming recently. This means the people behind the scenes putting the episodes together already know who exactly their focus should be on.
TUF isn’t The Real World. Sure, there is a solid amount of drama that comes from each show, but The Real World isn’t a competition. At the end of the day, the fans are going to want to know more about the fighters who are advancing into the later rounds, not the guys who lost right away.
There are some fighters who lose right away that will have compelling background stories that can—and likely will—be captured for the audience. The problem with this in a live format is that if something develops in the eighth episode, then it could not be set up during the first seven. Whereas, if something major happens late this season, the crew has enough time to build up for it and find a way to draw the viewer in weeks in advance.
The actual stars of the show are supposed to be the fighters. Three fighters who have won the show have gone on to capture a title. Many others have gone on to fight for a championship within the promotion. There is no doubt that the show is a major vehicle in the promotion’s operation. Returning to a taped format will not turn a relative nobody into the next title contender, but it will allow the production staff the proper time to build up the fighters who excel in the house, and turn them into fighters that the fans want to see as the next champion.
Photo: Roy Nelson (James Law/Heavy MMA)